[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] Friday objected to the planned execution of former Saddam-era Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai [TrialWatch profile], saying that al-Tai should receive clemency because he was only acting under the threat of death from Saddam and had worked with the the Kurdish community while he was an official in Saddam's regime. Talabani said that he will not approve al-Tai's death sentence; a prosecutor told the Associated Press that executions had to be approved by the government and the president's office. The Appeals Chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] upheld [JURIST report] Al-Tai's death sentence earlier this week.
Al-Tai and two other former officials from Saddam Hussein's regime, including Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid – known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali" [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] – were all convicted in June of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds during the 1988 Anfal Campaign [HRW backgrounder]. Al-Majid has repeatedly denied the allegations [JURIST report], saying that he does not know who used chemical weapons or "if they were ever used." Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] was also a co-defendant in the Anfal genocide trial [JURIST news archive] before he was executed in December 2006. Talabani similarly refused to sign Hussein's death warrant [JURIST report], invoking his general opposition to the death penalty. That death warrant was subsequently signed by Talabani's vice-presidents. AP has more.